There are a lot of great reasons to make your own baby food – you’re in total control of the ingredients, you know it’s fresh, and it can save you money. For most people, controlling the ingredients is the thing that appeals most. Feeding your baby the same healthy foods the rest of the family is eating ensures that they have a healthy, diverse diet. It’s a lot easier to introduce new foods when you’re not relying on the limited combination of ingredients that you can purchase at the store. Want to know another great benefit? You can make food that will help your baby sleep better! There are certain foods that naturally make you sleepy and by adding those into your puree, you can make homemade baby food that promotes sleep!
Walnuts contain tryptophan, an amino acid that your body doesn’t produce on its own. Tryptophan helps produce serotonin, a brain chemical that affects your mood and can make you more relaxed and sleep better. They also have melatonin in them, which is the ’body clock’ hormone that sets your sleep-wake cycles. Melatonin is released when it’s time to sleep, so adding this to your babe’s last meal should help with bedtime.
This recipe from Weelicious would be perfect for introducing walnuts into your baby’s diet.
Apple Walnut Puree (Makes 6 Serving)
- Prep Time: 1 mins
- Cook Time: 10 mins
- 2 apples, cored and peeled (pink lady, fuji, or gala are all good choices)
- 1/4 cup walnuts, shelled & halved
- 1/8 teaspoons cinnamon
- Place apples and walnuts in a steamer pot over boiling water.
- Cook for 7 minutes or until apples are fork tender.
- Place apples, walnuts, cinnamon and 3 tbsp of the water from the steamer pot in a food processor and puree for 3 minutes or until smooth.
- Cool and serve.
- *If your family has a history of food allergies or if you have any concerns, I highly recommend speaking to your pediatrician before offering nuts to babies or kids.
White rice has a high glycemic index which a study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found helps people fall asleep faster when eaten before bedtime. Brown rice is recommended in most baby food recipes because it is higher in nutrients than white, but the white has a higher glycemic index, so try the white for bedtime. Either one of them will be easy to substitute in these recipes.
This recipe found at MomJunction could be easy staples in your homemade baby food diet.
Banana Cado Rice Mash
Suitable for six months+ babies.
Healthy and tasty – this is the perfect baby food!
- 1/2 cup cooked brown rice puree
- 1/2 mashed banana
- 1/2 mashed avocado
- Two tablespoons of applesauce
How To Make:
- This is the easiest recipe on the list. Simply mix all the ingredients.
Garbanzo Beans (chickpeas)
These legumes are high in tryptophan to help promote sleep, but they are are also a very healthy addition to your baby’s diet. Garbanzo beans are high in fiber, iron, potassium, and vitamins K, C, and B-6. Many people find that it’s difficult to get fresh beans soft enough for baby food so they use canned ones.
This recipe from Betty Crocker could be a great nutritious baby food staple.
Chickpea-Sweet Potato-Cauliflower Baby Food Puree
This homemade baby food recipe is super easy to make and ready for your little one in just 20 minutes. Just blend canned chickpeas with steamed sweet potato and cauliflower florets.
- 1 medium sweet potato, peeled, cubed (about 2 1/2 cups)
- 2 ½ cups small cauliflower florets
- ½ cup canned chickpeas, drained, rinsed
- In large saucepan or skillet, place steamer basket in 1/2 inch water (water should not touch bottom of basket). Place sweet potato cubes and cauliflower in steamer basket. Cover tightly and heat to boiling; reduce heat to low. Steam about 12 minutes or until sweet potato is fork-tender. Drain, reserving steaming water. Cool slightly.
- In blender or food processor, place sweet potato and cauliflower. Add chickpeas. Cover; blend or process until as smooth as desired, adding some of the steaming water if needed.
- Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate up to 24 hours. If freezing, spoon puree into ice cube trays, and freeze until solid. Transfer cubes to resealable freezer plastic bag. When ready to use, place individual cubes in the refrigerator to thaw.
Cherries are another great source of melatonin. Although cherry juice twice a day is recommended for adults and kids, this simple cherry puree would be a good introduction of cherries in your baby’s diet. Tart cherries are the ones with the most melatonin in them, so pick them over the sweet ones. This recipe from Parent Guide could be adapted in so many ways! It could be an excellent base for many baby food recipes!
A cherry baby food recipe at its simplest. Just cherries. Just delicious.
- 1/2 cup fresh cherries (stems removed, washed, pitted)
- 1/4 cup filtered water (or apple juice if using tart cherries)
- Combine the water and cherries in a saucepan and bring to boil.
- Simmer cherries for 5 minutes or until soft and tender and juices flow freely.
- Set aside to cool before mashing or pureeing in a blender to your baby’s preferred consistency.
- Freeze excess in ice cube tray and defrost when needed.
Bonus Tip: For cherry puree with a twist, add 3 medium apples (peeled, cored, diced) and a dash of vanilla essence to the saucepan in step 1.
Oatmeal is another good source of melatonin. The grains in oatmeal also trigger insulin production, the same as whole-grain bread does, which helps make you feel sleepy.
This recipe from Weelicious is another one that we think would make a great daily staple for a healthy diet for your baby that could promote better sleep.
Oatmeal Cereal ( makes 4-6 servings )
- Prep Time: 1 mins
- Cook Time: 5 mins
- 1/2 cup old fashioned oats (aka 5 minute oats)
- Place oats in a food processor, pulse for 15 to 30 seconds or until finely ground.
- Store the oat powder in a sealed container in the refrigerator or freezer or in a cool dark place for up to 3 months.
To make 1 serving for a 5-9 month old baby
- Bring 1/2 cup of water to a boil and sprinkle in 2 tbsp of the ground oats and ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, if desired.
- Whisk continuously for 30 seconds and then occasionally for 3-5 minutes or until the mixture is thick and creamy.*
Accompaniments: * Breast milk or formula can be added to thin the mixture
We can’t guarantee that these foods will make your baby sleep better, but since they’re all nutritious foods it can’t hurt to try! Let us know if you’ve tried any of these recipes (or similar ones) and if they had an impact on your baby’s sleeping patterns. We’d love to hear about your experiences!
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